Grant supplies 50 young readers with books

Davis Middle School paraeducator Tiffany Schmoll writes down the names of books selected by students as part of the Kids Need to Read grant Schmoll applied for and won. (HERALD PHOTO/Sheila McGuire)

EVANSTON — At the end of March, 50 Davis Middle School students were able to select a free book to keep, thanks to the efforts of school paraeductor Tiffany Schmoll, who applied for and received a book grant from Kids Need to Read.

Schmoll said reading is part of her daily life at DMS, whether she is teaching reading or simply modeling reading for students during silent reading time. Schmoll said, “One night when I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t get books off my brain.” She said she used the sleepless hours to search online for grants for books and came across the Kids Need to Read organization.

“I went out on a limb and filled out an application,” said Schmoll. “A few weeks later I got a phone call asking what type of books students I work with like to read. I was blown away that I won the grant and realized how many doors it might open for students.”

Schmoll, who typically works only with seventh-grade students, said she turned to her school colleagues to nominate students who were in need of or would appreciate receiving a book through the program. On the morning of Wednesday, March 30, 50 students from sixth, seventh and eighth grades were called to the school library to select a book through the grant.

“It was really exciting to see staff members, from food service workers to the string teachers, nominating students for the grant,” said Schmoll. “I think students were surprised to see who had nominated them.”

Schmoll said the experience has inspired her to pursue future grants, perhaps trying to find one that can provide books for all students at Davis Middle School.

“It’s just so exciting to give students a gift they can open again and again,” she said. “Hopefully one day when they are older, they will realize how much this grant meant to me and the staff members who nominated them, how maybe this in fact really did open a door for them and give them the opportunity to excel.”

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